Blooded is the mockumentary thriller we can’t get enough of at the moment. After being wowed and surprised by the independent Brit film, I caught up with the film’s director Ed Boase, producer and actor Nick Ashdon, writer James Walker and actors Neil McDermortt and Isabella Calthorpe, to talk hunting, the Highlands and a little about His Royal Highness – Prince William.
Blooded was born from James’s experience of a trip to the Isle of Mull when he went deer stalking for the first time. Walker and Boase were keen to create a film with a sense of landscape, and once you see the film, you’ll see how perfect the Isle of Mull is for this.
“I was really struck by a) the landscape, that sort of rugged muscular, very powerfully cinematic scenery, and also when you’re up there and you’re crawling around the hills and I thought what if that was me at the other end, how terrifying that would be,”said James.
As in the film, James had his first kill on the trip and he projects his feelings about this on the character of Eve. He tells me that when he wrote it he wanted to show that Eve felt so terrible about shooting the deer that she thought by some karmic, cosmic sense it brought about the attack that follows. James admits that he felt a primal connection killing the deer, but he clearly didn’t have Eve’s guilt, as he ate it afterwards.
The others around the table tell me it’s not something they’ve ever done. Neil says that the closest he’s come is clay pigeon shooting. I ask him if is it something he would try after working on the film?
“It wasn’t really the reason I did the film. The reasons were the challenges of playing someone who is potentially meant to be real person. Working with Ed and Nick, they were very passionate from the very beginning about what they were doing,” Neil revealed.
“The ideas, the way they presented the film were very innovative and different to what I’ve worked on before and from the audition process I was inspired and wanted to be involved. And it’s very rare to be involved with two people who I believe are going to have a long career in film making, so it was something I really wanted to do.”
Across the table Isabella is nodding her head in agreement. She tells me the Isle of Mull is the most remote place she has ever been and there really wasn’t anything else around the house they were filming in. “Hunting in a vast open space, in the unknown, it’s terrifying,” she says.
Putting aside the issue of hunting, I wanted to know what the actors and team took away from the experience. Nick immediately replies “One of the actors learnt to growl like a deer, which I think is a pretty strong life skill.”
Interestingly every time I try and steer away from hunting, one of the group come back to it. Ed talks about the crew and cast eating the deer used in the film, James’s mum made a curry with it. Nick pipes up saying he likes venison but he would never kill a deer. Ed and James may not have wanted the film to be solely about the hunting debate, but it seems to be intrinsically linked to the other big issues they deal with.
We move onto the issue of extremism. The conversation again returns to the hunting debate, as the film has caused a fair amount of outrage and the initial trailer was banned from YouTube. Do they hope that more people will watch the film after all the press it has attracted? Ed hesitates for a moment before saying:
“I’m proud of the film, I do want people to see the film. The film is intended to be a balanced debate, it’s mainly on the subject of extremism but it’s set against the world of hunting. I wanted it to be a film that thrills. We wanted to make something that when people are watching it, they are riveted, they care about what happens next and they don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
But can you feel any sympathy towards the extremists? Neil raises the question of who actually is the extremist in this story, “the animal activists I’m sure would say that my character is an extremist of hunting.”
Isabella agrees, adding: “I think this film is about finding the humanness in whatever. I think this film shows that whatever side you’re on, if I was to play a character on the other side, you just search for what’s the driving passion in this person, why do they feel so strongly about this. It’s about trying to find humanness on both sides, which I think you can.”
“We’re not trying to hoax or trick people, that is definitely not the intention. We wanted to tell a thriller in a fresh way. We never said the story was true and what’s been interesting for us is the fact that people watch this and think did this happen, could this have happened and the fact that perhaps there is something a little bit scary about the world we live in and that was the intention.”
They tell me about their up-and-coming projects, Ed and James are working on a children’s film with the children involved in every aspect of it, Isabella has just directed and starred in a documentary about Haiti (and yes, she is going to the Royal Wedding), Neil will be in EastEnders for the time being. Nick says: “because I played the reconstructed Neil in Blooded, I’m just generally trying to become his twin in EastEnders.” You heard it here first!